Speech by Chief of Air Force, Major-General Kelvin Khong, at the Memorandum of Understanding Signing for the Work-Study Diploma Programme in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering

Speech by Chief of Air Force, Major-General Kelvin Khong, at the Memorandum of Understanding Signing for the Work-Study Diploma Programme in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering

Ms Low Khah Gek, CEO, ITE,

Mr Lim Serh Ghee, President, ST Engineering Aerospace,

Mr Ng Chin Hwee, CEO, SIA Engineering Company,

Mr Philip Quek, President, AAIS, and

Senior signing officers from the various organisations,

A very good afternoon. Well first of all, I would just want to express my appreciation to all of you for joining us today and indeed, it is very nice to meet you albeit virtually, because of the current COVID-19 situation. But this is the new normal, and as we say, we make use of technology, and something is better than nothing. So, good to see all of you today.

We are actually very pleased to have our NSF Air Force Technicians embark on this WSDip programme that our staff has worked so hard over the past few months to jointly develop. And indeed, this initiative represents a “win-win” outcome for all parties. First of all, for our NSFs who are trainees, they are able to acquire valuable skillsets, and gain the professional qualification in the form of a “Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering”, during their National Service stint. And secondly, for the Air Force, this initiative will help to contribute towards a more stable and predictable Air Force Technician (AFT) manpower base for us, in order to meet our operational and training demands. And finally, at the end of their full-time NS, the industry will also benefit because our Air Force Technicians will emerge as a qualified and experienced pool of engineers that the industry can tap on. So this WSDip programme will indeed create an enriching and fulfilling NS experience, and also embody this larger educational drive towards “learning by doing”.

We are also very happy, as Ms Low said, that the take-up rate among the ITE students so far has been very positive. The numbers I have is that 75% of the course intake for the pioneer batch has actually been confirmed and indeed, we are poised to recruit more with interviews that are planned for the next two batches of basic military training intakes. The RSAF is very keen to recruit and to train more Aircraft Technicians under this programme, and if the interest continues to be strong, I actually have been updated by my staff that we could potentially work with ITE to create a second intake in October to better match the flow-through of the NITEC graduates. So I think this is a positive development that I certainly look forward to working together on that.

I am also very pleased and appreciative of all of our partners here – ITE, ST Engineering Aerospace, SIA Engineering Company, as well as AAIS who has been very supportive of the initiative and played an important role in engaging aerospace industry members and encouraging them to recognise this WSDip programme. So, thank you very much, and I would like to take this opportunity in particular to thank Ms Low, Mr Lim, Mr Ng, as well as Mr Quek for your support. The RSAF believes in investing to train our people and helping them upskill during their time with us, and this partnership will allow us to do that, and also, at the same time, contribute towards the national efforts to build up a skilled workforce for our industries. While the AFT in the Air Force is the first vocation in the Air Force to embark on this WSDip programme, I certainly hope that it will not be the last and I am hopeful that similar programmes can also be extended to other vocations in the future.

I am confident that our partnership to train qualified Air Force Technicians will yield benefits to the individuals as well as to our respective organisations. Especially in the current climate where the aviation sector has been hard-hit by COVID-19, we need to continue supporting employment and training for workers in this sector, so that the workforce is ready when the aviation sector starts to recover, and we can all help this sector emerge stronger from this COVID-19 pandemic.

We look forward to welcoming our first batch of Air Force Technicians as students in the WSDip programme, and I want to wish them every success in attaining their diplomas. And once again, thank you all for the partnership.

Thank you everyone and I wish everyone the best of health. Thank you.

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